Positive signal of fish exports to the Middle East in 2023


VCN – Middle Eastern countries are still optimistic destinations for pangasius exporters in 2023 because demand is forecasted to be more stable than in other markets.

Pangasius exports are popular in the Middle East
Pangasius exports are popular in the Middle East

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), by the end of November 2022, with sales of nearly 290 million USD from Vietnam, the Middle East market has had an impressive growth rate, up 44 % and accounts for nearly 3% of total seafood exports.

The main seafood products exported to the Middle East market include pangasius, which accounted for 44%; tuna accounted for nearly 30%; shrimp accounted for 16%; other marine fishes, squid and octopus, which accounted for 10%.

Pangasius has the highest export value to the Middle East and the strongest increase in the past 11 months, with nearly 127 million USD, up 66% over the same period last year. This market segment accounts for nearly 6% of Vietnam’s pangasius exports in 2022.

Frozen pangasius fillets with HS code 0304 accounted for 91% of pangasius export value to Middle East countries, whole frozen pangasius with HS code 03 accounted for 8%, and the remaining nearly 1% was processed pangasius.

According to Ms Le Hang, Communications Director of VASEP, the top 3 markets in the Middle East region importing the most Vietnamese pangasius include Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia. The breakthrough was Saudi Arabia with over 19 million USD, up 165% in the first 11 months of the year.

Pangasius exports to Egypt and the UAE increased by 35% and 30%, respectively, over the same period in 2021 to reach $35 million and $29 million.

In 2022, the tense Russia-Ukraine war and the limited oil supply from Russia is an opportunity for Middle Eastern countries to make profits, so the region’s economy is still growing optimistically and higher than in 2021. Although also suffering from high inflation, in general, the food consumption demand of Middle Eastern countries will not be affected as badly as in other markets. That is a factor for Vietnamese seafood enterprises to boost exports to the Middle East.

Economists predict that the Middle East’s economy in 2023 will slow down because oil prices and the oil market will not be as stressful as this year. The general trend of markets, including Middle Eastern countries, is not as active as in the first half of 2022.

However, for pangasius exporters, Middle East countries are still optimistic destinations next year because demand is forecasted to be more stable than in other markets.

By Le Thu/Phuong Linh


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